Tom Udall

‘Zombie’ spending marches on as HR 1 faces Senate death, complaint says
Measure would address alleged misuse of campaign accounts after lawmakers leave office

Allegations of using campaign money for personal expenses after leaving office is the subject of a Federal Elections complaint against former Republican Rep. Ander Crenshaw of Florida. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the Senate prepares to face off in the coming weeks over House Democrats’ sweeping political ethics overhaul bill, a provision aimed to curtail so-called “Zombie” campaign spending is getting renewed attention. 

That’s the use of campaign money to pay for personal expenses after a lawmaker has left office. And it’s the subject of two Federal Elections Commission complaints filed this week involving former Republican lawmakers, Florida’s Ander Crenshaw and Georgia’s John Linder

House passes HR 1 government overhaul, sending it back to campaign trail
With Senate not planning to take it up, Democrats plan to continue fight into 2020

Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., led Democrats' effort to draft the HR 1 government overhaul package as chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force. The House passed the measure Friday on a party-line vote. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With passage of HR 1, House Democrats’ political money, ethics and voting overhaul, the mammoth proposal now heads exclusively to the 2020 campaign trail, where candidates in both parties say they believe their message will woo voters.

The House passed the measure 234-193 Friday morning. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the bill’s foe in chief, has assured his side he plans to officially ignore it in his chamber, refusing to bring it for a vote even as the Kentucky Republican said Wednesday that he believed his party could win elections against people who support it.

Tim Kaine and the war on zombie wars
Virginia Democrat says he is slowly gaining support for a more robust congressional role in military adventures

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., is continuing his fight against “zombie” wars. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Little by little, Sen. Tim Kaine thinks fellow members of Congress are coming around to his point of view that the legislative branch should be more assertive when it comes to war powers.

The Democrat from Virginia has been among the most persistent advocates for the Senate debating and voting on authorizations for using military force when needed, and pulling them back when it’s past due. His latest push is against what he calls “zombie authorizations.”

House Democrats ready ethics overhaul for floor vote this week
HR 1, a sweeping ethics overhaul is expected to pass along party lines, amid intense opposition from Republicans

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., leaves a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus in the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats, barely nine weeks into a majority they won in part with promises of an anti-corruption legislative agenda, will turn the spotlight this week to their signature campaign finance, ethics, voting and lobbying overhaul.

The House Rules Committee will take up the package Tuesday, setting the parameters for consideration on the floor. Lawmakers then will debate the measure on the House floor over the following days, with an expected vote on final passage Friday morning. Democrats and outside advocates pushing for the bill say they’ll be on high alert for GOP attempts, including amendments and motions to recommit, that could tank the overhaul.

Tom Udall and Susan Collins introduce Senate disapproval of Trump’s border security emergency
Encourage fellow senators to defend the congressional power of the purse

Democratic Sen. Tom Udall is leading the joint resolution to terminate President Donald Trump’s border security national emergency. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sens. Susan Collins and Tom Udall have teamed up on the Senate version of legislation disapproving of President Trump’s border security national emergency.

Udall, a Democrat from New Mexico and an appropriator, said the resolution to terminate the national emergency isn’t really even about the proposed border wall itself, saying on the Senate floor this is a matter of “standing up for the Constitution.”

China threat looms over Senate 5G hearing
Senators signaled support for building a fifth-generation wireless network, but raised concerns that China is already on its way to establishing dominance

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, new Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators from both parties on Wednesday signaled support for building a fifth-generation wireless network that could enable innovation in telecom, agriculture, and health care sectors but raised concerns that China is already on its way to establishing dominance over the technology.

At the year’s first hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, new Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said nationwide 5G implementation could propel the United States “into the fourth industrial revolution,” by creating millions of new jobs and enhancing transportation and agricultural systems through enhanced connectivity.

Democrats try to meet people where they are: mired in cynicism
Next to Trump’s unfulfilled, empty pledge to drain the swamp, HR 1 looks pretty savvy

Democrats are intent on sticking to their “For the People” message, even if they’re swimming upstream against the partial government shutdown. Above, from left, Rep. Colin Allred, Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, Caucus Vice Chair Katherine Clark, and Rep. Xochitl Torres-Small hold a press conference in the Capitol on Jan. 9. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS — It’s tempting, and deliciously smug, to dismiss House Democrats’ everything-but-the-kitchen-sink campaign finance, lobbying, ethics and voting overhaul bill as an overtly partisan political messaging stunt that’s doomed in the Senate and too unpolished for enactment.

The measure is all of those. But ignoring this effort outright means waving off voters’ very real perception that their democracy has been sold out to the highest campaign donors.

Republicans in Congress Are Coy About Whether They Would Take Interior Post
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said this week she is not interested in the job

Several senators praised outgoing Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and endorsed his capacity to take on the secretary of the Interior job. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In anticipation of the appointment of a new Department of the Interior secretary this week, one member of Congress on the reported shortlist has confirmed his interest in the post, but most rumored candidates have shied away from public statements.

President Donald Trump said on Twitter Saturday that he would nominate a replacement to outgoing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke this week. 

Democrats Press Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg to Disclose More About Political Ads
Senators want voluntary disclosures about buyers of politically charged advertising

Democrats want Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to offer more voluntary disclosure about political ads. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A contingent of Senate Democratic Conference members want Facebook to voluntarily disclose more about the sources of advertising dollars on the social media platform.

The group led by New Jersey’s Robert Menendez, highlights in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg efforts by Russia to use Facebook to spread political messaging to undermine the U.S. electoral process.

Informal Nature of Border Wall Request Roils Spending Debate
Trump still hasn’t submitted “budget amendment” on $5 billion demand

President Donald Trump still hasn’t put details of his $5 billion request for border wall funding on paper in any official capacity. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump’s $5 billion demand for a U.S.-Mexico border wall has held up the entire spending wrap-up for fiscal 2019. Yet Trump still hasn’t put the details of that request on paper in any official capacity, a departure from precedent that is in keeping with this president’s unconventional style.

The fact Congress hasn’t gotten a formal letter to change the border ask seems technical. But it has set a stage for debate where no one’s arguing on the same terms. And this has arguably let lawmakers and the White House escape a broader debate on the substance by simultaneously referring to an outdated budget request or a dollar figure that doesn’t exist formally on paper.